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    Aung San Suu Kyi freed


    by ODN


    Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has finally walked to freedom amid massive cheers from elated supporters who flooded the streets outside her home in Burma.

    The Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who has been detained for 15 of the past 21 years, was greeted by jubilant crowds who had gathered in Rangoon in anticipation of her release.

    Prime Minister David Cameron and former Prime Minister Gordon Brown both welcomed the end to her detention.

    Mr Cameron said: "This is long overdue. Aung San Suu Kyi is an inspiration for all of us who believe in freedom of speech, democracy and human rights," he said.

    "Her detention was a travesty, designed only to silence the voice of the Burmese people. Freedom is Aung San Suu Kyi's right. The Burmese regime must now uphold it."

    Mr Brown said: "There will be joy round the world at the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, the world's most renowned and courageous prisoner of conscience."

    Ms Suu Kyi, whose latest period of detention spanned seven and a half years, smiled broadly as she appeared at the gate of her compound.

    Supporters had been waiting most of the day to see the 65-year-old.

    Her release comes a week after the country's first elections in 20 years, which handed victory to the pro-military party but were condemned as a sham by critics.

    She had been due for release last year but was convicted for violating the terms of her previous detention by briefly sheltering an American man who swam uninvited across a lake to her home.

    Ms Suu Kyi took up the democracy struggle in 1988 and was thrust into a leadership role primarily because she was the daughter of martyred independence leader General Aung San.

    She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990, having been detained on national security charges and put under house arrest the previous year.

    She was released in 1995 but has spent much of the time since then in detention, either in jail or under house arrest.